Sunday, November 11, 2012

Good Enough

"You should write a blog."  That's what my friend said to me, that fateful day a few weeks ago.  We had a few major exams coming up, and the last thing I was looking for was another productive outlet for my limited free time.

Unfortunately, she was right.  I enjoy writing, and lately when I write, I have no other outlet to share except Facebook.  Don't get me wrong, Facebook is great.  It's like having a People magazine style update for everyone in my life.  Those things you never cared about, like which of your melodramatic friends is fighting with her boyfriends? Yeah, now you can continue to not care, but have it shoved in your face anyways.

Anyways, Facebook is not where I intended to go with this.  I'll have to get back to that.

So thanks to Aloiya, (who is going to be upset that my computer is under the impression that her name is not a real word) the series of events that would lead to me sitting here blogging on a Sunday night (when I should be studying) was set into motion.

I have attempted to blog before.  What I always begin with enthusiasm, I tend to get distracted from and lose interest in shortly thereafter.  I think I will do better this time, because if life in medical school has taught me anything, it's this: if I have anything else to do besides study... I will usually choose to do it.  This is the reason my house is clean, that I take the time to cook nice dinners, and that I have already begun my Christmas shopping.

While it has the potential to be good for my future in blogging, my aversion to studying is less than ideal for school.  It's not for the reasons that you would expect though.  Despite finding time to do other things, I still manage to do alright on my exams, pass with a reasonable margin, and generally I feel I understand the material pretty well.

What throws me off is that I don't like to study.  It is not something that I enjoy, and it does not come naturally to me.  I don't feel as though I have the same drive and commitment that everyone else here does.  On a regular basis, I compare myself to my classmates and come up short.  There are others here who are more talented, smarter, more driven, more compassionate,  just more of... everything.  So where do I fall?  It's not that I am not smart, compassionate, driven or talented - but I am certainly not the most of any of these things.  Sometimes I look around and ask myself, if all of these amazing people were chosen for this school... what could the interviewers possibly have seen in me?  I am certainly glad that our admission is not re-evaluated every year, because I would fear losing it.  Despite having worked hard to be here, I continually feel that I am still proving myself.

I compulsively compare myself to my classmates and come to the conclusion that I do not deserve to be here.  However, this conversation comes up often, and guess what? I'm not alone.  We all feel the same - or at least, the vast majority of us do.  We are a strange breed. We studied in undergrad, overachieved in high school, set our own goals and standards and pushed ourselves to exceed them.  We worked hard to be the best and the brightest, and generally we were.  It's the big fish in a small pond syndrome.  In my high school, there were people who were driven and smart, but there were only a handful of us.  So even if I was in the lower end of that group, I still stood out.  Now, I am big fish in a giant pond.  Everyone here is smart, driven, talented, etc.  Despite my years of effort, I am just average, if not below.  This is not something I am used to. Even though I continually pass my exams, I tend to feel like a failure.

I am discovering that it is okay.  I am not the best.  So what? I will still be the best physician I can.  I will study hard, work hard, learn a lot, and ask for help when I need it.  All of that, along with prayer and faith have been enough to get me here. It will be enough to get me where I need to go.

In medical school, we are continually applying.  In high school you want to get into college, in college you want to get into medical school, and once you're finally here, you still have residencies, fellowships, jobs, research opportunities etc. to work towards. In the midst of all of these applications, where you present your "best" self, its easy to feel that you will never be enough.

That feeling, when it descends upon you, does nothing but blur your focus and dampen your spirits.  This life, for the next several years, will be a long uphill climb.  There are very rarely times that one can coast.  There is always a next step.  It's a lot to deal with.

So,  It's time to stop comparing myself to the others here and start comparing to myself.  Am I improving? Am I satisfied?  Unfortunately, gone are the days where my scores were the highest in the class.  Gone are the days where I felt certain that I belonged simply because of my performance.  Now, I have to fight for it. As long as I can believe the fight is worth it, I know I'm going to win it.

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